Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Elderberry Chutney

Several years ago, when we had an elderberry tree in the garden, I discovered a really good used for the elderberries; it makes a great chutney. Because the tree was in the garden, I could see when the berries were ready for picking, usually in September. Elderberry chutney needs to be kept sealed for at least three months after it is made to allow the flavours to develop fully, so we used to open the first jar on Christmas Day, because it was am excellent alternative to the ubiquitous Cranberry Sauce, which is usually a bit too sweet for me. But for quite a few years, and especially since we moved to a house without an elderberry, I keep missing the right time to pick them. Either they were too green, or they had rotted on the branch. This year, I noticed that there were several tress nearby that were ready for picking, so I went out at 7 this morning and grabbed myself a bag of berries. Here is the recipe if you want to try it:

500 g elderberries, freshly picked from the tree when they are ripe, washed an removed from stalks (this is a fiddly operation to make sure that you don;t end up with any stalks or insects in your bowl of berries)
500 g onions, finely chopped
500 g cooking apples, peeled and chopped
125 g sultanas and/or raisins
250 ml malt vinegar
150 g white sugar
150 g light muscavado sugar
6 ml coriander
6 ml cumin
12 ml five spice
12 ml mixed spice
12 ml ginger
6 ml salt
6 ml cayenne
Put everything except sugar into a large enamelled or stainless steel pan. Cook the mixture until the ingredients are soft, stirring from time to time. Add the sugar, stirring over low heat until it dissolves. Cook the chutney until it is thick so that a wooden spoon drawn through it leaves a mark without filling at once with liquid. Meanwhile choose small jars with vinegar-proof (preferably plastic) lids. Paper covers are not satisfactory because vinegar can evaporate through them and the chutney will dry out. Plain metal lids should not be used because vinegar corrodes the metal. Put clean jars (roughly 3) into a cool oven to dry and warm. Fill warmed jars nearly to the brim with hot chutney, and seal at once. Store in a cool dark place. If correctly stored it will keep for years.

Let me know how you get on with it.

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